Tuesday, November 26, 2013

leftovers made good: chicken, olive and caper brown rice risotto

We live in a wasteful world and it is up to each of us everyday to "waste nothing" as my husband was told by an Aboriginal Elder he lived in community with. In traditional societies when an animal is hunted every part of that animal is used the meat is eaten, the fur or feathers used to make clothing or hats. In our house the boys and I are regularly reminded to "waste nothing".

The meals we prepare each week are determined by what we have in the fridge and cupboards not the other way around. That is we don't write a menu plan and then go out and shop from the menu plan we work around the food that needs to be eaten so that nothing ends up in the bin or compost that could otherwise have been eaten. Even if this means that you cook a dish with what you have on hand that you think your children won't eat or enjoy, it sends them a powerful message about being grateful for the food that is available and that we don't always need to be buying more, new, different.

This dish came about because I had leftover roast chicken and cooked brown rice. I was inspired by Georgia's brown rice risotto and had a think about what ingredients I had that I could create my own version.


Cooked brown rice (I used about 2 cups)
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, brown or spanish, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock (if you don't have any stock you can use water and a splash of tamari)
Leftover roast chicken, (or if you don't have leftovers you could use chicken thigh or fillets and cook them in as you go)
Parsley, a good handful chopped
A few sprigs of thyme ( I used lemon thyme because that is what we have growing in our garden)
2 tbsp of capers, finely chopped or whole depending on your preference
A handful of black or green pitted olives, sliced
As much silverbeet or spinach as you like, washed and sliced
(if I had white wine I would have added a splash of that too)

To cook

Melt the butter and cook the onion until transparent, add the garlic taking care not to burn.

Add in the rice, stock, chicken and thyme and simmer for 2 minutes. Add in the capers and olives, continue simmering for another few minutes add in some water if it is looking dry.

If you are using spinach stir that in at the end and turn the heat off, if you are using silverbeet that is generally a bit tougher than spinach and may need a minute or two extra cooking to soften into the mix. Stir the parsley.

If you like your risotto to be rich and decadent go right ahead and stir in another knob of butter, ditto if you like parmesan. Personally, I'm not a fan of parmesan with chicken but that's just me, on the other hand adding parmesan to this dish was a good lure to get my boys to try it!

I hope you enjoy coming up with your own version of leftovers risotto.

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